Can connections alone get you into the academy?

<p>I know a guy who is an average student and an average athlete. He plans on attending USNA because his mom "knows someone". I always heard you have to be an outstanding all around person to even be considered for the academy. Is it true that connections alone can gain someone entrance into the academy?</p>

<p>Ask John McCain. He did not want to go to the Naval Academy.</p>

<p>In general, students have to be academically and physicallly qualified. There are different kinds of appointments, but "knowing someone" in itself is probably not enough. If a parent is a graduate, that can be helpful from both the appointment angle and because the parent has a good idea of what is required to be successful at an academy.</p>

<p>If your average student's mom is a personal friend of the president, a senator, or a U.S. representative, the chances might be pretty good.</p>

<p>I don't know what the connection is, he was pretty vague. That's interesting about McCain, I never knew that.</p>

<p>Of course, McCains father and grandfather were Academy grads and Admirals. He grew up in a military family. Back when McCain got in - entrance was a lot about "connections" and the Academy was much smaller.</p>

<p>Occassionally a "connection" can help with a Congressional Nomination. Usually Members of Congress nominate solely on merit but some districts are under-represented and the competition for a Nomination is not great.
However, a Nomination does not equal an appointment. To win an appointment each candidate must qualify not only academically but also physically and medically. Fail one of those and there will be no appointment; regardless of connections.</p>

<p>Finally - not sure what your definition of "average" is. Average means different things to different people. For instance, the "average" SAT score for college bound seniors in 2009 was 501 in CR and 515 Math. Most people on this forum would categorize those scores as poor.</p>

<p>I think connections with a prominent member in your state/community can be helpful in getting a nomination. But that will not be too helpful in getting an appointment. The Academy is not too impressed that a prominent CEO of a local business thinks you're great. A politician, on the other hand, can be very influenced by that.</p>

<p>The academy tends be more impressed with military-type connections. But there is really is no good way to gracefully let them know that you know Admiral Such-and-Such because the only recommendations they really ask for are from your English and Math teacher. Unlike the Senators/Congressmen, the academy does not require you to gather recommendations. Admiral Such-and-Such will have to be very proactive in getting you recognized.</p>

<p>But, it's not really a who-you-know process. The vast majority of the class gets in on their own merit. There will be sons and daughters of plumbers and insurance men. All kinds! Wealthy families, middle class families, and needy families. </p>

<p>I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and didn't know a thing about the Navy when I showed up in the summer of 1975. My roommate's father was a Rear Admiral. My other roommate was the son of a Filipino enlisted man. We could not possibly have been more different. And yet, we got along great! Because none of those things mattered to us. We were all just trying to survive - TOGETHER - from day to day.</p>

<p>I would not count on it.</p>

<p>Getting in isn't the problem.</p>

<p>Some people make the mistake of thinking that just because they "know someone", that not only can they get in, but they can GET THROUGH. </p>

<p>Sorry, but USNA is a viscously Darwinian environment. Just because you got in doesn't mean you'll graduate. The road is strewn with the corpses of people who failed to realize that.</p>

<p>Hell, I've long said that getting IN is the EASY part!</p>

<p>So let your friend brag (a bad sign all on its own). He will soon have to perform for people who don't give a flip who Mommy and Daddy know. He will either have to get up to speed or be left behind.</p>

<p>Unfortunately, probably not a true as it used to be. While the immediate mid-chain-of-command might not care who mom and dad know, you can be sure that the adults in charge will be aware of the situation. Given a close call, it is evident on which side of the fence a well-connected person--either athletically or militarily--will be left. </p>

<p>Eventually, of course, even the well-connected run out of fence, but you can be sure they have a bit more fence upon which they can lean.</p>

<p>You have a point, I'm sorry to say. :(</p>

<p>The Football team hasn't exactly been the best model of integrity, lately. Granted, the few ruin it for the many, but the ruin still happens.</p>


I've often wondered about how true this actually is.... I've "heard" that the vast majority of people that do not make it through the USNA (or the other SAs) are people that quit as opposed to being "shown the door". Does anyone have any idea what % of Mids are involuntarily separated as opposed to just quitting?</p>

<p>Let me be a bit more to the point. XCI's views are usually on the $$. On this one, as Bill has gently suggested, not so. I'll be more direct. Statistically speaking, odds are MUCH GREATER of graduating than being appointed. Especially for white, non-athletes. The % is the highest in the nation, with none others beyond the other SA's being even close. Overall it's about 84-86% annually those who were appointed and graduate. It is significantly variable when one looks at sub groups ...females, diversity appointments, and some others.</p>

<p>So while the WORK has just begun, the traditional outcomes show that for those who WANT to remain and graduate at USNA's a virtual lock. </p>

<p>Many have lots of ups and downs along the way. A tour here and there ...a summer school block on occasion ...some unsat time ... etc.</p>

<p>This is one where the stats are overwhelmingly clear ...appointments can be scarce as hens' teeth and tough to garner ...degrees and commissions are slam dunks ...IF one is determined they want them. </p>

<p>And the gravy on this great meal? They virtually all do it in 4 years with zero monetary debt and $35K in the bank or in the parking lot. </p>

<p>But the mythology is another story ...</p>

<p>Didn't we have this non-sequitor discussion before? There is no doubt, backed up by absolute statistical data, that approximately 1,000 out of an entering class of 1,200 will graduate each year. Every year. Year-in, year-out.</p>

<p>That does not take away from the notion that, each year, in very isolated cases, perhaps less than a dozen, probably fewer than five, A FEW mids manage to graduate who, along the way, were granted special consideration that other less-connected mids would not have received.</p>

<p>;) Bill, if mine serves me at all, indeed yours is serving you accurately. But it may be that either XCI's has shorted out in a power surge ...or he was AWOL to that chit-chat.</p>

<p>And as noted, there are anecdotal behavioral and academic abberations as well as those who choose to leave among the chosen few appointees. And NONE get to the finish line without working their tails off and rising most days on or before 0600 hours. That alone merits a BS and commission, imo. :D</p>

<p>And a direct answer to the specific question of "Can connections alone get you into the Academy?" </p>

<p>Short answer: Absolutely, yes. And we all know of several cases, one family. Surely there are other, less notable, visible cases. </p>

<p>More edifying answer: Lest you've at least 2 alumni admirals and a very senior U.S. Senator-USNA alum and presidential candidate in your squirrelly tree ...not a good approach to landing there.</p>

I've often wondered about how true this actually is.... I've "heard" that the vast majority of people that do not make it through the USNA (or the other SAs) are people that quit as opposed to being "shown the door". Does anyone have any idea what % of Mids are involuntarily separated as opposed to just quitting?


<p>I don't have any hard numbers, but I'm sure they can be had from somewhere.</p>

<p>What I do have is experience. I can't remember any Mid quitting after Christmas of their Plebe Year. This is true in my class (where you know more people across the Brigade than from other classes) as well as those I saw while I was there. I'm certain there are some, but the percentage would be miniscule.</p>

<p>"Getting booted out", therefore, would probably make up the bulk of the remainder, and my guess would be that academics would be the largest contributor.</p>

<p>When I tell people that getting in is the easy part, it doesn't quite jive with comparative percentages. When you compare the percentage of those who are inducted who actually graduate (as Bill has mentioned) to the percentage of those who apply who are inducted, the numbers read that getting in is the hard part. However, a LOT of grossly unqualified people apply, which skews the numbers a tad. Additionally, the years leading up to an appointment don't quite compare to the levels of commitment and performance expected on a regular basis AFTER you are inducted.</p>

<p>Most of the guys who drop out either a) decided that it really wasn't for them after all, b) couldn't hack the stress, c) couldn't hack the academics, or d) did something stupid.</p>

<p>Those who make it don't breeze through (well, not the majority, at any rate). They make it through by holding true to their commitments and working their tails off. THAT, IMO, is harder than getting in because the test is a long prolonged one rather than a comparative snapshot.</p>

<p>My opinion. Worth what you paid for it. :)</p>

<p>ETA: It would seem I may have missed a thread somewhere. My apologies if I'm beating an already-dead horse without knowing it. Perhaps the best way to answer the OP would be that yes, connections can help, but they are a poor substitute for personal ability, and that eventually that becomes both obvious and impossible to counteract. Those who rely solely on connections in ANY venture will fail at some point 99% of the time.</p>

<p>XCI, Bill and others (me!) have indeed ridden this poor pony plenty enuff. </p>

<p>Just one absolutely anecdotal observation that is current/hot: Of those I am aware ( and there are a fair number) ...Virtually all of those who depart are self-induced. Not literally, but virtually. It is very clear that the current MO is to KEEP all you possibly can. Note, and we will soon be hearing this number again come August or early September, the bragging about the new, lowest number of Plebes extricated during summer. And that, along with continued retention, make perfect economic sense. There is big $$ invested in enrolling and retaining Midshipmen. And no economic honor in bumping them out. It has to be chronic and/or major academic and/or behavioral screw-up to get one thrown out. And the longer it goes, while some would contend "the 1/C should know better and boot them if they screw up", reality is the inverse. Too much money invested to boot them because of some modest dishonor (I know, that's oxymoronic for some such thing). Check the most recent Curry case in point. Everyone 'cept those close to the Supe were bellyaching about his retention. And only when he continued to mess up, was he separated. And that die has been caste now. For all the near future, until someone decides it's gone far enough and revision returns.</p>

<p>So, I contend that all of us who adore the place and that which we percieve it represents would prefer to believe and contend that "man, this is really tough getting to the finish line." And for most Joe Schmoes it would be. But most Joe Schmoes ain't there. And in truth, and these stats do clarify it ...if one is sufficiently qualified and/or needed for various reasons ...and is motivated to stay, they will and do. It's that simple.</p>

<p>And just one note I would quibble about ...i.e. that there are "ALOT of grossly underqualified apply." suggesting the 17K candidates is inflated and misleading. I'm sure there are some, perhaps many. But what is "ALOT?" And what is "grossly?" Until we know those, it's tough to assess the point. My own opinion, and worth every dime ...there are not ALOT. But that's one we'll never know, either way.</p>

<p>Example data - </p>

<p>For the Class of 2008 (as of July 31, 2008)</p>

<p>31 (2.6%) were involuntarily separated.</p>

<p>67 (5.6%) voluntarily separated.</p>

<p>and 42 (3.4%) left during (or before the completion of) plebe summer.</p>

<p>They started with 1,249.</p>

<p>I'm sure someone will edify, but last summer the departure number was 15 or so from a class of about 1260, I believe. Previous summer was something like 18 or 20? Before that, about 25. Each pursuant summer is a "new record low." So the objective, target, and drift are clear. Crystal, as we're told in "A Few Good Men."</p>

<p>Lou, can you share where your good stats come from?</p>

And just one note I would quibble about ...i.e. that there are "ALOT of grossly underqualified apply." suggesting the 17K candidates is inflated and misleading. I'm sure there are some, perhaps many. But what is "ALOT?" And what is "grossly?" Until we know those, it's tough to assess the point. My own opinion, and worth every dime ...there are not ALOT. But that's one we'll never know, either way.


<p>Oh, I dunno. I'm sure the stats could be dug up somewhere, but you'd need to raid the offices of Congress to do it (and we all know how they feel about that).</p>

<p>I think of it this way: using approximate numbers, roughly 25,000 applications are received each year, of which somewhere in the vicinity of..... maybe 5,000 get nominations, give or take? That first cut has to include a healthy chunk that shouldn't have bothered in the first place. </p>

<p>Granted, byond that it's mostly speculation, but I think the point that it would skew the comparison (because you aren't comparing like data) is valid.</p>

<p>Either way, this is strictly an academic exercise. :)</p>

Lou, can you share where your good stats come from?


<p>Not sure I'm following "good"... :confused:</p>

<p>However, as I admitted, I am basing my opinions on my own experience. I do not have hard numbers, especially recent ones.</p>

<p>I will admit, however, that despite the reasonable argument that getting kids to quit isn't financially wise, that the steadily-falling dropout rate during Plebe Summer concerns me. I hope it is because more of the kids coming in are good and committed enough to stay, rather than that the standards are being lowered.</p>

<p>My DH gets some admissions figures for applicants/potential applicants in our area from the academy on the Hudson. The lists he gets early in the admissions cycle may have 15 names and they are categorized by how qualified they are. Usually, one or two are listed as fully qualified (not the term that is used). So I would agree that many apply who know that it is a long shot.</p>